With archaeological discoveries dating back more than 3 million years, we set out to explore Ethiopia and its magnificent landscape. Starting out in Addis Ababa, we will make our way, slowly, to the north to see the Danakil Depression which is one of the hottest places on earth and understand it’s importance. We will also make our way up to Erta Ale, the active volcano, to view the living Lava Lakes. Both are amazing places located in the Afar Triangle, a region where some have suggested. this is where it all started.
Start Point: Addis Ababa
End Point: Addis Ababa
Maximum number of people: 10
Explore the Danakil Depression and view the Yellow lake and hydrothermal system of Dallol
Climb Erta Ale, and view the volcano’s activity
Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa .
On arrival, you will be met and taken to your hotel to freshen up. Our first journey will be sightseeing through Addis Ababa including a drive up to Mt Entoto for a panoramic view of the city. As we descend to visit the National museum, you will have a chance to spot fossils of the oldest hominids (Lucy). We will then visit the Holy Trinity Cathedral built during WWII. This has a large copper dome, spindly pinnacles and numerous statues on the exterior and inside grand murals, brilliant stained glass windows, two beautifully carved imperial thrones made of ebony, ivory and marble. We continue to the Ethnographic museum which used to be the palace of Emperor Haileselassie. This museum shows Ethiopia’s cultural and social history. It is fascinating and well worth a visit. At the end of the day, we drive to the Merkato, the biggest market in East Africa.
Day 2: Drive from Addis Ababa to Bahir Dar
Will set us up for the drive through the wonderful chain of mountains (including Mt Entoto) and the densely forested areas to arrived 2 hours later at the much respected Ethiopia Debre Libanos situated in the northwest of Addis Ababa. It was founded in the 13th century by the Saint Tekle Haymanot who according to myth, meditated in a cave for 29 years. We will visit the museums, internal parts of the church and parts which contain a lot of ancient biblical texts and religious crosses. We will then pass through the wonderful landscapes of the Blue Nile Gorge and will stop at Debre Markos for lunch and will continue driving to Lake Zengena which is the second deepest lake in Ethiopia probably a Maar lake formed by volcanic explosion and collapse. We will spend the night in Bahir Dar.
Day 3: Bahir Dat (Lakeside town)
We will take a boat cruise on Lake Tana to visit the 14th Century monastery of Ura Kidane Mihret which is the most famous of the Zege Peninsular monasteries. In the afternoon you will visit the village of Tis Isat to see the Blue Nile Falls. We will spend the night in Bahir Dar.
Day 4: Drive from Bahir Dar to Gondar – named the Camelot of Africa
We will begin our trip to Gondar. This is the Royal Capital of Ethiopia and founded in 1636 by Emperor Fassiladas. In the afternoon you will drive to the castles and churches built by this Emperor and his descendants. We will then proceed to the fascinating Debre Birhan Selassie (Trinity and Mountain of Light). This church is famous for its beautiful examples of Ethiopian church art. It is said to be built by an Emperor and preserved by an archangel. Then on to the Qusquam monastery and ruined palace founded by the Empress Mintwab. You will see the old church, fine old manuscripts and the skeletal remains of the Empress, her son and grandson. We will spend the night in Gondar.
Day 5: Gondar – an excursion to the Semien Mountains (4 – 5 hours drive of 122km)
We will drive to Buyit Ras, a segment of the Semien Mountains. This is one of the wildest and magnificent sights you will see in Ethiopian landscapes. This is the only place in Ethiopia registered by UNESCO as a natural place. We will spend the night in the Semien Park Debarq.
Day 6: Debarq Axum (Mysterious monoliths)
We will be driving to Axum, a city with more than 2500 years of history and once the centre of a great empire and ancient civilisation. It is the home of the “Ark of the Covenant”, the coronation yard, the Tomb of Kaleb and his son Gebre Meskel,Ezana’s inscriptions, the Queen of Sheba’s bath and her palace ruins and of course the Axum museum. We will spend the night in the Yared Zemma Hotel in Axum.
Day 7: Axum to Mekelle
We will drive to Hawzen and on the way will stop at the temple of Yeha and the rock-hewn churches of Tigray named Adikisho Medhanyalem, Wukero Cherkos and Abrha Wasba. We will stay the night in the town of Mekelle in the Mekelle Axum Hotel.
Day 8: Mekelle to Erta Ale – the volcano
We start early on our drive to the base of Erta Ale. This could be the worst road in the world. Although only 70 km it may take 5 hours passing through a changing landscape of Lava, rock and sand and the occasional palm lined oasis. After we pass several small villages scattered here and there, Dodom is about 9.5 km from Erta Ale and it will take about 3 hours of trekking. We will have an early dinner around 1700 and trek up to Erta ale at 2000 hours. Camels will transport all our camping gear and some food to the rim of the volcano where we spend the night watching the dramatic action of the boiling lava. Erta Ale ranks as one of the most physically challenging yet alluring attractions anywhere in Ethiopia. It is a shield volcano with a base diameter of 30km and a 1km square caldera at its summit. Erta Ale contains the world’s only permanent lava lake. We will spend the night at the top of the mountain at 613 metres.
Day 9: Erta Ale to Hammedele
We descend from Erta Ale around 9am. We leave to return to Dodom after an early breakfast so we can be back at the camp by 10.30am and have time to relax. Then we will drive to Hamad Ela a village with a population of about 500 people. We will spend the night here camping.
Day 10: Hamedela – Mekelle
We start with a morning tour to Ragad (Asebo) the place where villagers mine salt. We will watch their activity of breaking the salt, cutting it into rectangular pieces and loading them on to camels. We will then drive on and visit a different landscape – one formed by volcanic activity. We will make a journey to the Danakil Depression or also known as Dallol and Lake Assal which is 116 metres below sea level to see the colourful salt mining. We will follow the camel caravans and walk with the Afar people. We will then drive back to Hamdela and proceed to Mekelle. We will spend the night at in Mekelle.
Day 11 – 12: Mekelle – Alamata –Lalibela
We will be driving to the town of Lalibela and on the way you will see the beautiful landscapes of the Tigray region. You will stopover at Alamata to see the markets of the Wello and Tigray people and later we will stop at Weldiya for lunch then continue driving to Lalibela. We will spend the night in Lalibela.
Day 13: Lalibela to Yimrehane Kristos-Desse
In the morning you will take an excursion to Yimrehane Christos. This is located on a mountain ridge where the peak is Abuna Yosep. The beautiful church is a masterpiece of Axumite wood and stone construction. The walls are subdivided vertically with recessions and projections. In the afternoon you will visit the remaining churches: Bete Gabriel, Bete Marqorios, Bete Emmanuel and Bete Abs Libanos. Overnight will be spent at the Weldya Lal Hotel.
Day 14: Desse – Senbete(Sunday) Market – Bati Market – Awash National Park
Depending on what day this is – if it is Monday you will have the chance of attending the 2nd largest market of Ethiopia – the Bati market in the town of Bati. You will then meet the three tribes – the Afar, the Wello and the Oromo and you will also see the camel markets. If the day is Sunday, you will see the Senbete market in the town of Senbete and the beautiful people of Oromo and Wello working together. Later we will drive to Addis Ababa after stopping at Debre Birhan for lunch. We will spend the night in Addis Ababa.
Day 15: Addis Ababa and departure.
Today will be a free day and we will attend a traditional dinner, being our last in the evening, with the chance to taste authentic Ethiopian cuisine and performances from the ethnic groups in Ethiopia. We will also be treated to a traditional coffee ceremony. In the evening, we will depart for the airport for our departure.
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